Restore the Vote!

Here at, we believe that the people who know the reality of the American prison system – the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated – are the only ones who can lead the way in solving it’s problems. If returning citizens are not able to vote, how can that happen? That’s why we hope you can check out this recent Huffington Post op-ed from Common Cause’s Director of Voting and Elections: Return the Right to Vote to ‘Missing Men’.

Something must and can be done to ensure that communities from which these men go “missing” do not suffer further. Maryland, for one, eased the process of reintegration for these men (and women) just a couple of weeks ago, passinglegislation that returns the franchise to eligible voters upon immediate release from incarceration. The move bucks a national system. In 35 states, the formerly incarcerated are prohibited from voting — and thus from fully participating in political and civic life — until they’ve completed probation and/or parole, with some states additionally requiring a governor’s pardon in order to have the right restored. These laws, disproportionately affecting men of color, oftentimes for having committed the same drug crimes as whites, have collectively resulted in the elimination of 5.85 million voices from the political process. Without those voices, underrepresented communities go further marginalized.

Read the full article here.